Wednesday, 7 November 2012

After Dark (Haruki Murakami)

Title: After Dark
Author: Haruki Murakami
Translator: Jay Rubin
First Published: 2004
This Edition Published: 2007
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Pages: 202
Source: Book club
Genres: Translated Literature, Japanese Literature, Contemporary
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This is the first book by Haurki Murakami that I have read so I am not familiar with his writing style at all, although I have heard a lot of things about his books Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore and IQ84, so I knew that I might be getting into something a bit different, and well yes I think I can definitely sum up this book as a little weird... weird and brilliant.

The premise of the book is that at midnight in Tokyo we meet Mari, a 19 year old student who is reading a book at Dennys at midnight. Into Dennys comes Takahashi who knows Mari's sister Eri. The story follows Mari and her sister Eri through aspects of their night and finishes up at 7am. Well 6:52am to be exact, you see each chapter of this book is a time which I thought was so well done.

The descriptions of Tokyo at midnight are just incredible, it really does feel like you are there, I visited Tokyo a couple of years ago and this book took me straight back to that incredible city. The language of this book is simply beautiful, this was one of my favourite excerpts.

"Even at a time like this, the street is bright enough and filled with people coming and going - people with places to go and people with no place to go; people with a purpose and people with no purpose; people trying to hold time back and people trying to urge it forward."

There are some incredibly interesting characters in this book (I'm going to go into a bit of detail in this paragraph so skip if you hate knowing too much about a book before you read it, but don't worry I never give away too much plot!). Takahashi is a Trombone playing student who bumps into Mari in between band practices. Through Takahashi she is introduced to Kaoru, the retired female wrestler who is now the manager of a love hotel. Mari also meets a Chinese prostitute, along with Komugi and Korogi, maids whose names mean Wheat and Cricket. We also meet Eri, Mari's beautiful sister who has been sleeping for months, literally a sleeping beauty. Eri's sections are certainly the most unique thanks to her encounters with The Man with No Face.

Okay you're pretty safe now. The narration in Eri's sections was incredibly unique using terms such as 'we see such and such' and highlighting the fact that we are but a point of observation that cannot interact with the scene in any way. It was fascinating. I would love to know what kind of narration style it would be called. Maybe something along the lines of an external or video narration, where the point of view  changes to take in different aspects of the scene and is actively talked about as part of the narration?

Ultimately this book explores ideas of sibling relationships and alienation through the exploits of a scattering of outcasts on one night in Tokyo. It was a joy to read and I recommend it to you all.

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